Mittagong RSL Club
Supporting its Community
Craig Madsen is General Manager of the Mittagong RSL. Over the course of the past year Craig has been in discussions with the Argyle Housing CEO, Wendy Middleton, with regard to the Mittagong RSL Club becoming involved with supporting an existing scholarship program developed by Argyle Housing.
The scholarship program is aimed at supporting Argyle Housing tenants who show initiative and desire to move in a positive way towards furthering their ambitions. After discussing the Argyle Housing Program with the Club’s Board of Directors, they were impressed with the program and approved support to the value of $5,000. To date, the funding from the Mittagong RSL has sponsored three tenants to assist with studies in; Certificate 1V Community Services; Certificate 11 in Horticulture; and Certificate 1V in Youth Welfare.
In a unique coincidence a recipient of the Mittagong RSL Club sponsorship has a son, Drew Singleton, who is employed at the Club as an Apprentice Chef. Drew initially gained “on the job” experience at the Club through the Club’s EDU Program while a student at Moss Vale High School. Drew enjoyed his on the job experience to the extent that he decided to apply for a chef’s apprenticeship at the Club. He was successful with his application, based on the experience he gained in the Club EDU program. Drew has been doing his best with the apprenticeship at the Club in very trying times during COVID-19 and we are looking forward to him developing into a great employee and person.
Over the passage of time, the association between Argyle Housing and Mittagong RSL Club is about providing opportunity to people who may not necessarily be exposed to an environment where opportunities exist. There is a synergy between both organisations, in that they are here to assist in providing connections for our communities to realise their potential. The stories behind Drew and his mother are evidence that if you get half a chance, are willing to take that chance, you will have the opportunity to succeed.
The Mittagong RSL Club are pleased to be involved in the Argyle Housing Scholarship Program and we look forward to continuing the sponsorship of the program well into the future.
– Craig Madsen
Humanitarian Settlement Program
Argyle Housing Tenancy Support Officers, working with Red Cross Support Workers
Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Albury, ACT
Resettlement of refugees and humanitarian entrants into Australia.
The Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) provides support to refugees and humanitarian entrants into Australia to build the skills and knowledge they need to become resilient, self-reliant and active members of the Australian community.
The partnership with Red Cross and Argyle Housing is very important for the success of housing tenancy for the incoming entrants to Australia.
Arrivals under the HSP are a highly vulnerable cohort of tenants who can very quickly end up in housing stress, have multiple tenancy failures and subsequently end up placing additional pressure on the social housing system to meet their long term housing needs. Argyle Housing and Red Cross understand that this cohort is a particularly resilient, capable and resourceful tenant group and given the right support on arrival they are highly successful in their future tenancies. Our partnership with Red Cross provided safe, affordable housing that allowed tenants to learn to manage and source housing within the Australian context for a sustainable housing future independent of the social housing system.
Within the program, Argyle Housing was able to source privately owned properties that are suitable to the incoming entrants before they arrive in Australia. Some of the criteria that needed to be considered were the size of the family, location to services and affordability.
Argyle Housing was then able to support and guide entrants on the best ways to manage their tenancy in a safe and supportive environment, without the repercussions that they may encounter as a tenant in the private market. The private market can leave tenants with life-long black marks against their name if they are taken to the tribunal for making mistakes they did not know they were making. In the private market, entrants may encounter multiple tenancies in a short amount of time, and this causes a lot of strain on waitlists and affordable housing.
Throughout the HSP, it is known that entrants are very capable and do have a lot of success when they are shown what the expectations of a tenancy are, right from the beginning.
The partnership with Red Cross means that while Argyle Housing placed the new entrants into a tenancy, both agencies then supported them throughout their settlement in Australia.
Some of the services that can be accessed through the support of the Red Cross and Argyle Housing are in the following areas forming the foundation for successful settlement:
- Education and training
- Physical and mental health and wellbeing
- Managing money
- Community participation and networking
- Family functioning and social support
- Language services
The entrants then become successful tenants within the HSP, achieving measurable, long term tenancies. This, in turn, creates a positive contribution to the community in which they live as it eliminates the need for multiple tenancies by the entrants and offers housing opportunities for new entrants in the affordable housing sector.
The successful partnership between Red Cross and Argyle Housing is clearly demonstrated when HSP participants leave the program and assimilate into the community and start their own journey in the private housing market.
Throughout all of the successes within the program, Red Cross decided to take on the program alone in 2020. Argyle Housing wishes them all the best. Sunette Le Roux was employed by Red Cross to continue the excellent work she was doing with the incoming tenants.
A Personal Insight
My family and I relocated from South Africa to Australia in 2008 and faced many obstacles learning to adapt and build resilience in a new country. This has helped me understand some of the challenges faced by our tenants who arrive through the Humanitarian Settlement Program and how difficult it can be. I feel like it is a journey I take with each family that arrives, from helping to find short term accommodation to educating about how to maintain a tenancy and getting to know each family and their needs to help their settlement process in Australia.
This financial year we have helped 30 families find long term accommodation and settle into their new homes. It gives me the greatest pleasure when you find a family a home. They are always so grateful and thank you with tears in their eyes for finding their family a home and helping them start a new life in their new country. For me this is the best part of the job, feeling like in some way we are making a difference. It is so rewarding.
After spending six months to a year with the families, you start seeing them become more and more independent and resilient.
Every time you meet, you see their English language improve a bit more. A lot of clients go on to find employment and finally understand how to manage their own tenancy. We empower them to sign direct leases and become independent.
Every day is different with new challenges to face, but the friendships you build, and the end result always leaves you with a satisfying feeling, that I’m am truly doing what I love.
When three siblings and their families, along with their parents arrive in Australia on the same date, you know we have a big job to do in getting the extended family into homes.
It is a close-knit family with the siblings having a very special bond through the adversity they endured together. A big focus of all of the siblings has always been to help out with the needs of their parents.
Whilst we were able to house all of the family members, their new homes were apart from each other in different suburbs and only accessible via public transport.
The family asked if there would be a possibility to house all the families relatively close so they can continue to support each other. In the ACT it can be very difficult finding long term accommodation for clients because of demand and families not being able to afford the rent in ACT. We managed to find two of the family’s properties at first and after being rejected for many properties finally secured the third family in a property close by. The family couldn’t thank me enough and were just so grateful for all the work we put in to help their families.
From El Salvador to Australia
Leticia Garcia HSP Tenant
Leticia and her family are survivors from El Salvador which has one of the world’s highest homicide rates.
Many neighbourhoods of El Salvador are ruled by gangs that control and extort resident communities throughout the country. Children are forcibly recruited and some women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are subject to sexual slavery. Government security forces have been largely ineffective in protecting the community from violence and these conditions have resulted in internal and cross border displacement.
Leticia with her husband Reynaldo and their children lived in constant fear of their lives and moved three times within El Salvador before finally fleeing to Costa Rica. In the search for a safe and secure place to live, they applied for refugee status and made their journey to Australia.
Upon arriving at the middle of 2019, they were taken to the Oxley Hotel in Canberra where they were given a warm bed to sleep and care packages welcoming them to Australia.
Leaving everything you have ever known and coming to a foreign country is not an easy decision, but one Leticia and her family were happy to make. This is in spite of some sadness for the loss of their way of life and communities that they had left behind.
After some initial issues in trying to find a suitable home, Leticia and her family are now settled into the community and with the help of our former staff member Sunetta, are now living close to her mother and sister in neighbouring suburbs where they can walk between each family home.
Arriving in Australia and getting settled was made a little more difficult as they arrived during the worst bushfire season Australia has ever seen. There was also a developing global pandemic and the country was headed for a wet and cold winter. Despite all of this, after finally settling in, Leticia is now enrolled in a leadership and management course, whilst her husband Reynaldo has enrolled into Environmental studies. Their eldest daughter has been accepted to university and is studying International business whilst also working at Coles. Her younger daughter and nieces are doing well in college at the moment.
Through miserable and often hopeless situations, Leticia and Reynaldo and their family have learnt to find the inner strength to move through every problem and issue that arose. Building a level of resilience within themselves has ensured that they are role models for their children and other families.
The support the family has received from Argyle Housing staff and local support services has been a major influence is helping the family to have the confidence to move on with their lives and make a difference in their community. Leticia is very thankful for the support that they have received and is forever grateful to Argyle Housing, Sunetta and all the support agencies.
Compliance and Registration
The National Regulatory Scheme Community Housing (NRSCH)
Community Housing is one of the most heavily regulated industry sectors in Australia. In addition to monthly, quarterly and six monthly reporting to state and federal governments, Argyle Housing is required to comply with business, contract and performance requirements in every aspect of its day to day operations.
One of the most important compliance requirements for Argyle Housing is to complete a Registration Return every year which goes to the Registrar of Community Housing in NSW. This Return covers every aspect of Argyle Housing’s business operations and includes both quantitative and qualitative reporting, analysis and prescribed evidence.
The Registration Return is not just about facts and figures but also asks us to tell the ‘story’ of how satisfied tenants are with the services provided, how happy they are with their homes and neighbourhoods, what positive personal outcomes we have helped them achieve and what progress we have made in meeting the needs of the communities in which we work. The Return is a scorecard on whether we are ‘living’ our vision, achieving the aims of our strategic plans and meeting the expectations of our tenants, communities and key stakeholders.
Argyle Housing is a Tier 1 Registered Community Housing Organisation under the National Regulatory Scheme for Community Housing (NRSCH) in NSW and the ACT. This is the highest tier of registration.
The NRSCH commenced on 1 January 2014 and its vision is to ensure a well governed, well managed and viable community housing sector that meets the housing needs of tenants and provides assurance for government and investors.
Argyle Housing has maintained its registration as a Tier 1 Community Housing Provider for the last five years and values working with the Registrar and his team to improve its practice through the recommendations provided.
Throughout 2020 Argyle Housing participated in two assessments in November and April with the following outcomes:
|2019/20 Registration Outcome – Overall Assessment|
|Individual Performance Outcome Assessments|
|1. Tenant and housing services||Compliant- with recommendations|
|2. Housing assets||Compliant- with recommendations|
|3. Community Engagement||Compliant|
|4. Governance||Compliant- with recommendations|
|5. Probity||Compliant – with recommendations|
|7. Financial viability||Compliant|